Traveling the US in a classic van or similar is an experience to remember! Luckily it is easier than you think... Stay tuned as we update our blog with entertaining stories and how tos that will make any trip more comfortable and secure.
Battery isolator systems allow you to charge the secondary batteries in your van when the motor is running. There are many variations of hooking a system up, but they all share a few common goals
- isolates the start battery from the auxiliary electrical system so that the accessories do not pull from the start battery when the start battery gets low
- In addition battery isolators will allow both batteries to charge when the engine/alternator is running.
This was extremely helpful on the trip as we had phones... computers... etc... that all needed to remain at full charge. The ability to do this with no worry about harming our starter battery was of great benefit.
Battery isolators are relatively cheap to install and for less than $150, you can tap into as much power as you would get from a similar solar setup.
Keyline battery isolators compliment solar systems really well. If it’s cloudy for a few days and you need some juice to charge your laptop, all it takes is a drive to the grocery store or your next campsite to get a little boost in power. In a van, you’ll likely be traveling around, and it’s great to make use of the already running motor and vehicle electrical system.
If you’re on a strict budget and just need a small battery for cell phones and some lights, an Isolator and battery might be the only thing you need to get you started, and you can add solar when you get some more cash.
The good news is that you don’t need to do anything special here! You can install this system right alongside your solar system. Both the alternator in your vehicle and your solar charge controller are smart devices that monitor battery voltage and adjust their current to make sure that your battery doesn’t get overcharged.
A vehicles alternator is designed to keep a float charge (13.8V) on a starter battery as well as provide enough power to keep all of the van’s equipment running... such as lights and a stereo.
Battery Isolator systems cannot protect the start battery from the primary system. Meaning if the user accidentally leaves on the headlights or dome lights in the cabin. These devices typically draw from the primary start battery and will need to be accounted for while in use.
Most MPPT charge controllers do use a multi-stage charge, so if you’re getting a lot of sun, you may not need a full charge cycle from your alternator and you can just use it to boost the system while you’re driving. For those camping for long periods of time without driving, this may be an optimum approach.